Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Leadership

by Brusman, Dr. Maynard Thursday, April 26, 2012
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I recently spoke with the VP of Human Resources of a San Francisco Bay Area company regarding providing executive coaching for several of the company’s high performing leaders. The VP of HR asked some very powerful questions to determine whether we were a good fit. She specifically wanted to know how I worked with different personality styles, and my methods for initiating behavior change. She was very interested in my executive coaching work with emotional intelligence and the link to leadership.

The VP of HR and I spoke about my approach to coaching, and my belief that possessing a psychological understanding of human behavior and business acumen are important competencies for coaching executives. We also spoke of the need for her organization to create a culture where innovation thrives.

The VP of Human Resources is interested in partnering with me in helping their leaders become more emotionally intelligent and inspirational. We further discussed how company executives can benefit by working with a seasoned executive coach.

EI and Leadership

As a leader, you set the emotional tone that others follow.
Our brains are hardwired to cue in (both consciously and unconsciously) to others’ emotional states. This is particularly true for leaders. People want to know how a leader feels and will synchronize with authorities they trust.

The emotional tone that permeates your organization starts with you as a leader, and it depends entirely on your EI. When employees feel upbeat, they’ll go the extra mile to please customers. There’s a predictable business result: For every 1% improvement in the service climate, there’s a 2% increase in revenue.

The list that follows, provided by TalentSmart’s Dr. Travis Bradbury, contrasts the behaviors of high-EI vs. low-EI leaders:

Leaders with Low EI
  • - Sound off even when it won’t help
  • - Brush off people when bothered
  • - Deny that emotions impact their thinking
  • - Get defensive when challenged
  • - Focus only on tasks and ignore the person
  • - Are oblivious to unspoken tension
Leaders with High EI
  • - Only speak out when doing so helps the situation
  • - Keep lines of communication open, even when frustrated
  • - Recognize when other people are affecting their emotional state
  • - Are open to feedback
  • - Show others they care about them
  • - Accurately pick up on the room’s mood